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Barrow J.D. New Theories of Everything. The quest for ultimate explanation

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Barrow J.D. New Theories of Everything. The quest for ultimate explanation
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. — 272 p.
‘Everything’ is a big subject. Yet modern scientists believe they have stumbled upon a key which unlocks the mathematical secret at the heart of the Universe: a discovery that points them towards a monumental ‘Theory of Everything’ which will unite all the laws of Nature into a single statement that reveals the inevitability of everything that was, is, and is to come in the physical world. This book is an attempt to describe what the challenge facing Theories of Everything really is; to pick out those aspects of things which must be understood before we can have any right to claim that we understand them. We shall try to show that while Theories of Everything, as currently conceived, may well prove necessary if we are to understand the Universe around and within us, they are far from sufficient. We shall introduce the reader to those extra ingredients which we need to complete our understanding of what is, and in so doing we aim to display many new ideas and speculations which transcend traditional thinking about the scope and structure of scientific inquiry.
Ultimate explanation.
An eightfold way.
Myths.
Creation myths.
Algorithmic compressibility.
Laws.
The legacy of law.
The quest for unity.
Roger Boscovich.
Symmetries.
Infinities—to be or not to be?
From strings to ‘M’.
A flight of rationalistic fancy.
Goodbye to all that.
Initial conditions.
At the edge of things.
Axioms.
Mathematical Jujitsu.
Initial conditions and time symmetry.
Time without time.
Cosmological time.
The problem of time.
Absolute space and time.
How far is far enough?
The quantum mystery of time.
Quantum initial conditions.
The great divide.
Forces and particles.
The stuff of the Universe.
The copy-cat principle.
Elementarity.
x contents.
The atom and the vortex.
A world beside itself.
Constants of Nature.
The importance of being constant.
Fundamentalism.
What do constants tell us?
Varying constants.
The cosmological constant.
Broken symmetries.
The never-ending story.
Broken symmetry.
Natural theology: A tale of two tales.
The flaws of nature.
Chaos.
Chance.
The unpredictability of sex.
Symmetry-breaking in the Universe.
Organizing principles.
Where the wild things are.
Big AL.
Time.
Being and becoming organized.
The arrow of time.
Far from equilibrium.
The sands of time.
The way of the world.
Selection effects.
Ubiquitous bias.
Is ‘pi’ really in the sky?
In the centre of immensities.
The number of the rose.
Philosophies of mathematics.
What is mathematics?
Mathematics and physics: An eternal golden braid.
The intelligibility of the world.
Algorithmic compressibility rides again.
Continuity—a bridge too far?
contents xi.
The secret of the Universe.
Is the Universe a computer?
The unknowable.
Select Bibliography.
Index.
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